Posted Feb 16, 2022 9:11 a.m.
Ramon “Ray” M. Rabago Jr. was called home on January 14, 2022, with his daughter Diana by his side. Ray was born on August 27, 1926, in Douglas, Arizona, to Ramon M. Rabago Sr. and Maria Asunción Novoa.
Ray attended Douglas High School, graduating with honors in 1944. In high school, Ray was a star athlete and he wrote as a varsity athlete in football, baseball, basketball, and Athletics.
Ray was a World War II veteran who proudly served in the United States Army from November 16, 1944 until August 22, 1946, when he was honorably discharged. He served with the 100th Infantry, 3rd Battalion Division in Europe where he was promoted to motor pool sergeant with the 3rd Battalion Headquarter Group Infantry Regiment, and later served as motor pool sergeant in charge for the regular headquarters of the 7th Infantry Regiment . He received the following decorations and awards: European-African Middle East (ETO) Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal. He received two overseas service bars. Ray was also decorated by the French army with a braid of French fourragère military cord for the successful efforts of his unit to supply the necessary ammunition to the French army. He was fluent in English and Spanish and learned German abroad.
Upon returning from the war, Ray helped create the Douglas Veteran’s Club, a group of Hispanic veterans whose mission is to bring equality to Hispanic citizens. Ray remained active throughout his life supporting veterans’ issues, including helping military widows receive benefits. He was a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 426 and the American Legion in Douglas, Arizona, where he served as post commander of Fred Hilburn Post 11 in 1964-65. Ray received numerous awards and honors for his dedicated efforts and was appointed National Aide-de-Camp for the VFW by the VFW National Commander in 1965, and he was appointed Arizona Deputy Chief of Staff for the VFW in 1966. In 2006, Ray was honored as Grand Marshal of the Douglas Veterans Day Parade.
Ray continued the sport after the war and played semi-pro baseball with the Douglas Internationals and was even offered a baseball scholarship to play catcher at the University of Arizona, but he stayed at Douglas because that he had married the love of his life, Amelia Estrada. , in 1947. Together they started a family and spent their lives in Douglas.
Initially, Ray worked in construction and later owned his own plumbing business. In 1952 Ray became the first Mexican-American firefighter for the Douglas Fire Department where he served 34 years, first as an engineer, then as a captain, and retiring as a Deputy Fire Chief in 1986. During his years as a firefighter at Douglas, Ray was a certified arson investigator and he has also served as Chief of Security for all departments of the City of Douglas since 1969. The Governor Sam Goddard appointed Ray to the Governor’s Civil Defense Advisory Board in 1965. Later, Governor Bruce Babbitt wanted to appoint Ray as State Fire Marshal for the State of Arizona, but Ray declined the appointment. honor, as it would have meant uprooting his family to Phoenix, so Babbitt appoints Ray as Deputy State Fire Marshal for the State of Arizona.
Ray loved the outdoors and enjoyed fishing, camping and hunting. He loved being at his parents’ farm in Elfrida. Ray was an avid reader of history and current affairs, and he enjoyed sharing his family roots.
Ray was predeceased by his parents, Ramon Rabago Sr. and Maria “Concha” Rabago; his infant son, John Jacob, his beloved wife, Amelia E. Rabago, as well as his siblings, David Rabago, Edmundo “Charro” Rabago and Maria Eulalia “Lali” Rabago-Olea. Ray is survived by his children Alvina (Paul) Pawlik, Diana Rabago Payne, Anthony (Anna) Rabago, Ernest (Teresa) Rabago, Robert (Mary) Rabago and Vince Rabago. Ray is also survived by his younger brother Richard Rabago and Ray’s legacy of 20 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Ray was a beloved son, brother, husband, father and grandfather, who loved being surrounded by all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ray was so proud of everyone in his whole family. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and the entire community.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 19, 2022 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Douglas, Arizona with a rosary at 10:15 a.m., followed by a funeral mass at 11:00 a.m. A military burial will follow immediately at Calvary Cemetery.
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